The United Kingdom House of Lords has decided to refer the case of West Tankers Inc v. RAS Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta SpA & Others to the European Court of Justice. The question raised is whether Regulation 44/2001 permits anti-suit injunctions to protect an arbitration agreement. The case arose out of a collision of a ship with a jetty. The charterparty contained a clause providing for arbitration in London. But the insurers of the jetty sued the shipowners in a court in Syracuse, Sicily, the place where the damage occurred and thus the court of jurisdiction under Article 5 §3 of Regulation 44/2001. Then the shipowners got an anti-suit injunction in England restraining the insurers from pursuing their claim in the Italian courts in breach of the arbitration clause in the chrterparty.
The matter went up to the House of Lords which then asked itself whether Regulation 44/2001 allows that. Good question. The Court of Justice has tended to be pretty hostile to anti-suit injunctions, as Case C-159/02 Turner v. Grovit shows.
We'll keep you posted.